Wednesday Writing Prompt: The Gift of Laughter

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Memoirs often are quite sad, quite serious, because life is often that way. It’s wonderful to be able to express grief, sadness, disappointment, abandonment, and other difficult and heart-wrenching emotions, because it is human to live through these things and come out the other side with the stories and lessons learned.

But many of the best memoirs–even ones that include very serious and sad stories–are lightened up with laugh-out-loud moments. Those giggle-inducing passages where you are sure anyone watching you read will think you’re quite crazy (or will want to know what you’re reading!). An extreme version of this technique is Caitlan Moran’s How to Be a Womanher story of growing up very poor, coming of age, and becoming a successful music journalist and mother of two young children; it is also a scathing diatribe against certain aspects of society’s expectations of women: it’s a book about modern feminism. It also happens to be incredibly vulgar, and painfully funny–almost to a fault, but not necessarily to its detriment. There is a punchline at every turn, and even while you’re crying for her agony, you’re laughing out loud. (There is a preview of the book available on the Amazon page, which I recommend taking a look at!)

Today, I’m going to challenge you to write something you think would make someone else laugh out loud. It’s potentially both harder and easier than it sounds. It might help to imagine you are telling a story at a family gathering–perhaps an incredibly embarrassing moment (for you or someone else), perhaps something that was, at the time, very hard to get through, but one of those things “you can laugh about now”. Think of a funny story, and write it in a way that would surprise someone with its funniness. Take 10 minutes. Go!

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